(156) Trochalopterum phaeniceum phaeniceum.
THE ASSAM CRIMSON-WINGED LAUGHING-THRUSH.
Ianthocincla phaenicea Gould, Icon. A v., pi. 3 (1837) (Nepal). Trochalopterum phaeniceum. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 93.
Vernacular names. Tilji-pho (Lepcha); Repcha (Bhut.).
Description. Lores, cheeks, ear-coverts, round the eye and a patch on the side of the neck crimson; a short supercilium black; upper plumage olive-brown, the feathers of the crown with partially concealed black margins; tail black, broadly tipped with orange and outermost feathers washed with orange throughout; wing-coverts olive-brown; primary-coverts dusky edged with olive-brown; winglet suffused with crimson on the outer webs and outermost coverts edged with the same; outer-webs of primaries edged with crimson and yellow, the former increasing and latter decreasing in extent inwards; secondaries with centre of outer webs edged blue, the terminal portions suffused with crimson, the bases with olive-green; the whole lower plumage fulvous olive-brown, tinged with ashy on the abdomen; under tail-coverts black, broadly tipped with crimson.
Colours of soft parts. Legs and feet brown with a purplish tinge; bill horny dark brown to practically black; iris brown (juv.) to deep crimson or lac-red; orbital skin dull leaden-dusky.
Measurements. Total length about 230 mm.; wing 81 to 93 mm.; tail about 100 mm.; tarsus about 32 mm.; culmen about 18 mm.
Distribution. Nepal to the extreme east of Assam, North of the Brahmaputra.
Nidification. Breeds between 3,000 and 5,000 feet and sometimes rather higher in the months of April to June, making a compact, deep cup of grass, leaves, roots and moss, lined with the latter and measuring about 4 1/2 inches to 5 1/2 inches in diameter by nearly as much in depth. It is generally placed in bushes in rather dense and moist forest, sometimes fairly high up but more often at 3 or 4 feet from the ground. The eggs number 2 or 3, very rarely 4, and are very beautiful, the groundcolour being a deep Thrush-egg blue with dark maroon and red-black lines, blotches and dots, the first being most numerous. Fifty eggs average 25.9 x 18.5 mm.
Habits. This species haunts forests and secondary growth rather than scrub-jungle, at elevations between 3,000 and 6,U00 feet, wandering as low down as 2,000 feet in winter. They are some¬times found singly or in pairs, but more often in small parties of four or five, keeping much to the undergrowth and lower trees and also hopping about and feeding on the ground, eating insects of all kinds and also certain seeds. Their flight is feeble and their notes consist of a great variety of conversational calls both harsh and sweet, with an occasional louder call when the birds get separated.